Kaatsbaan Summer Festival: dance, of course, but also music, cinema and gastronomy


You will see dancing, don’t worry. But CEO and Artistic Director Sonja Kostich wants you to have a full, multi-level experience when you come to the Kaatsbaan Summer Festival in Tivoli, New York. In fact, this experience is built into the programming. Over three consecutive weekends, from August 28 to September 12, the Hudson Valley Dance Sanctuary Multidisciplinary Festival will feature three new classical dance works with live music; a free weekend of swing western music, art and picnic; a film screening in partnership with the Woodstock Film Festival; and a first dinner at the end of summer in the open air.

While dancing is, of course, Kaatsbaan’s main focus, it is not for nothing that the organization, formed in 1990 in Tivoli, New York, is called Kaatsbaan Cultural Park, and that its stated mission is ” to provide an extraordinary environment for cultural innovation. and excellence.

“Translation: this should include all the arts,” says Kostich. “There are people in the Hudson Valley who love dance, but they also love music and the visual arts. And we’re in the Hudson Valley, where food is such an important part of the culture, so we’ve incorporated the culinary arts as well. Based on this understanding, we began to develop this approach for our Spring Festival.

Culinary culture: Ruth Reichl, Jeff Gordinier, and JuanMa Calderón and Maria Rondeau, who will prepare the pachamanca

Two festivals in a few months is ambitious to say the least. But, says Kostich, programmatically and financially, it makes sense for Kaatsbaan, and the summer festival builds on the success of the spring event.

“It was the greatest thing we have ever done,” Kostich said. “All the artists had a fantastic time. Our technical director built a stage in the backfield which was absolutely beautiful. We were able to have the largest audience ever – 350 people even with spacing for COVID. It was very intimate, like you could reach out to Patti Smith.

Yes, that Patti Smith. Kaatsbaan means in Dutch “a playground” and the “players” included dancers, musicians, sculptors and filmmakers. While the Spring Festival featured icons of dance and music (American Ballet Theater, Mark Morris, Martha Graham Dance Company), the Summer Festival supports the next generation of creators and artists. Events will take place both outdoors on its 153 acres as well as in its indoor theater, in accordance with all CDC and New York State guidelines.

The summer festival opens on August 28 and 29 with the premiere of three classical dance works commissioned by Kaatsbaan (each choreographer created their piece during a residency in Kaatsbaan). Gemma Bond’s work includes dancers from the American Ballet Theater (ABT). Renowned concert pianist Cécile Licad will perform excerpts from Rachmaninoff’s virtuoso “13 Preludes” in collaboration with these dancers. ABT’s Clair Davison brings a site-specific piece of physical comedy to the Kaatsbaan field, accompanied by the Avila Ensemble, made up of Venezuelan students from the Bard Conservatory. Choreographer Lauren Lovette (New York City Ballet) brings a new pas de deux to Mountain’s outdoor stage, with live music provided by the Balourdet String Quartet. Pianist Licad will open the outdoor part of the evening’s mountain stage with a solo concert.

September 4 and 5 is a free art weekend at the Cultural Park, with its fields open to the community for picnics, western swing music with Tamar Korn & A Kornucopia, walks in the sculpture garden featuring works by local Hudson Valley artists and cocktails and drinks available for purchase from Milk and Honey Mobile Taps. Although admission is free, visitors must register to obtain a ticket to enter the park.

For the last weekend, additional disciplines enter the scene. On September 11, there will be screenings of the Hudson Valley premiere of the film “In Balanchine’s Classroom”, presented in partnership with the Woodstock Film Festival. Guest speakers include filmmaker Connie Hochman, with former ballerina Prima Ballerina Merrill Ashley of the New York City Ballet.

The next day, September 12, the focus is on food with the inaugural “Playground Dinner,” hosted by Jeff Gordinier, cookbook author and culinary writer for the. New York Times and Squire. The end of summer party is in partnership with JuanMa Calderón and Maria Rondeau of Esmeralda and Celeste, who will prepare a pachamanca – an ancient Peruvian earthen cooking technique for which they recently featured in the New York Times. The evening will also include a conversation between Gordinier and Ruth Reichl, resident of the Hudson Valley, author and former editor of Gourmet magazine.

Kostich is particularly eagerly awaiting the pachamanca. “The people involved in it are absolutely amazing,” she says. “They see it as a performance. The whole ritual of cooking and serving food is accompanied by choreography.

All of these other arts are related to dance. Kostich believes collaboration is the future, so to that end Kaatsbaan has opened up its bubble residency program to include writers and filmmakers. We do not know what the future festivals will be. In the meantime, the summer festival appears to be a carefully timed mix of world-class cultural experiences.

Note: As per the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New York’s Most Important Performing Arts Venue Requirements, Kaatsbaan will require proof of vaccination for all events, exterior and interior.

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Gerald R. Schneider

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